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When it Rains…

Thanks y’all, but you can stop doing your rain dances now! I’m sure we’re in a rain deficit, but 5 straight days of rain is enough for me. At least for the next two days until I start complaining about how dry it is out there! It’s funny all the basic rain complications I forgot about during that stretch where it just wouldn’t rain. Like having to put tools away. Or my waterproof boots – the first couple days I was wearing my normal farm gear and was bewildered by my feet being constantly wet. Took me a few days to remember there was a solution for that! Also, I actually have to wash eggs again as those little chicken feet are kicking around in mud now rather than dust. And we have to go back to limiting daily laundry loads again due to our high water table up on top of the hill and our aging (generous) septic system. But I digress…
We were very fortunate to just get an excessive amount of rain the other day and not the hail that plagued other local farms. I saw quite a few shredded lettuce heads in my Instagram feed this week (yes, I finally had a minute to at least glance through it this week – things are looking up! Maybe I’ll even start posting on it again). I swear some of the buckets I left out had a good 5 inches of rain in them.
We’re on the brink of abundance already, as long as I can keep the deer from eating everything. They chomped the tops of 10 tomato plants the other night. Tomatoes! Why?! I think I actually disturbed them doing my nightly chores as I happened to walk by the plants and the tops were still wet, otherwise they probably would have taken out the whole row. There is now an electric line attached to their trellising so hopefully they get the idea. Deer also love carrot tops, beets, beans, and lettuce…same as us humans. Hopefully we get them and not the deer!

Loads of great stuff to be had before the deer get it. Here’s the link: ready, set, order!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before midnight Sunday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number in your cart. New this year, we’ll have your order bagged up and available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Dancing

Listen…did you hear that? I did – it was a collective sigh of relief from Massachusetts farmers. Rain! And in the forecast – rain, rain, rain, and RAIN! Five straight days of rain may not sound like a lovely week to you, but it sure does to me. I’m dancing with joy up here on the top of the hill!

Even before the rain, I was marveling at how well the garden looked. Onions and potatoes up to my hips, picture perfect lettuce, peas aplenty, perfect carrots, greens galore, and those curiously odd yet delicious garlic scapes are curling. Can’t wait to see how everything pops after the rain! Lots of good eating to be had, and the season is just getting started. Here’s the link: ready, set, order!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before midnight Sunday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number in your cart. New this year, we’ll have your order bagged up and available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Powerless

Those aren’t tan lines – it’s that dusty out there! If you own a pool or beach house, I’m sure you’re enjoying this weather. Me? Not so much. 12 hours of 80s and nothing but sun are brutal for this fair skinned farmer. At this point, I’d settle for a cloudy day! I’ve spent the last week bulking up my irrigation for this rough stretch. With our heavy wet soil, I’ve never really had to irrigate. A few sprinklers here and there always got me through dry stretches, no problem (other than that epic drought a few years ago). But we’re a month into a super dry stretch and the forecast is high 80s and 90s with no appreciable rain in sight. If y’all could do some rain dances for me, it would be much appreciated!

Welp, yesterday was a day I can’t wait to forget. It was supposed to be a great day – the first CSA pickup of the year coincided with my first born’s birthday! I spent days prepping so that I could be free to enjoy the birthday by pickup at 10am. Despite a few expected hiccups in our first big harvest/wash/pack, things were going well. Just before the pickup started though, my easy day blew up – literally…the transformer right in front of the house on the street blew. National Grid was on the scene in an impressively short period of time, but when he replaced the fuse it blew again and he had to call for backup. Power’s out, not a big deal right? We can’t run the AC units (which aren’t installed yet anyway) but otherwise? 

Turns out, yes when the greenhouse hasn’t been watered yet and is kept from cooking by an exhaust fan and the thirsty cows run out of water, it becomes a big deal. I got an inverter out and had to keep cycling through my electric fence batteries to keep the fan powered, but I really felt powerless when the cows ran out of water around noon and I got an email from National Grid that the power wasn’t expected to be restored till 430.

Fortunately a generous friend/CSA member offered his generator to power the well to water the cows. We ran down the hill to pick it up and as we were unloading it off his truck back at the farm, I saw a beautiful sight. Literally as the tractor bucket with the generator touched down to unload it, the cavalry (3 National Grid trucks) crested the hill. After confirming power was imminent, we put the generator right back up on the truck and all animals and plants were watered as soon it was restored. Other than some agitated animals, the only casualty was one tray of pea shoots that got cooked in the greenhouse.

With great watering effort, the garden looks fantastic. This is my first year growing peas, and they’re sooo good. I actually seeded them back at the start of March when it seemed like we were going to have a decent spring. They then sat in the cold ground for months and finally took off last week. Who knows how long they’ll last with this heat, so get them while you can. And those onions! Their tops (eat like scallions) are literally up to my hip, and the bulbs have just started bulking up. And there’s so much more good stuff. Here’s the link: ready, set, order!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before midnight Sunday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number in your cart. New this year, we’ll have your order bagged up and available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Opening Day!

Wow, what a start to the season. By far the most challenging of my brief five year tenure (for a variety of reasons). I’m sure I’m not the only one wishing for a reset on 2020 though! Anyway, I’m taking a quick break between setting up and moving irrigation around to let you know that the Grafton Market opens tomorrow 2-6pm! Unfortunately, I’ll be stuck on the farm putting the final touches (hopefully) on my crude irrigation system before the heat really sets in, but I am making $20 veggie bags available for pickup at the market. I hate to miss the market, especially Opening Day, and I’ve never actually missed one before but if I don’t get this nailed down there will be no rest of the season. Fortunately the market added a special designated pickup area for online orders. Orders will be bagged with your name on it will be waiting for you at the market. Want to claim one? Here’s the link. Order deadline is until they’re sold out, but no later than 10am tomorrow! (And yes, if you’re trying to avoid crowds you can pick up at the farm.) Even if you don’t want a bag, please go support your local vendors! It has been a rough time for many small businesses.

If y’all could do a rain dance for me, I would appreciate it. Not only do the plants desperately need it, but I need a break from the constant irrigation dance. Other than said dancing, we’re otherwise ahead of things. If it rained even just a little, I’d be sitting around twiddling my thumbs watching the plants thrive (and thrive they, but with great effort) instead of these 18 hour days I’m pulling. So please get dancing so I can stop dancing!

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Don’t Forget to Vote!

Not to take anything away from our civic duty, but we don’t just vote on Super Tuesday or in November. Nay, we vote every single day with our wallets and our forks. What we buy and consume directly shapes the world in which we live. Joining a CSA allows you to turn the daily necessity of eating into a powerful social and environmental action. Market demand is a powerful force – the ripple effect of this one choice is far reaching. Investing in this farm via a CSA Card is a vote for keeping local organic agriculture alive and well right here in Grafton.

Your support is truly appreciated. Income at this time of year, and a commitment to a full season of veggies, are so crucial to the planning of the farm season. Our traditional Saturday CSA filled up in three hours, but we still have plenty of CSA Card spots available. Take the plunge and invest in your health and help the farm grow TODAY!

How does the CSA Card program differ from our traditional CSA? Glad you asked! With the CSA Card, you get to choose what you want and when you want it. The card can be used at our Monday evening pick-ups (4-7pm) OR Wednesdays at the Grafton Farmers Market (2-6pm), and there is no commitment to coming weekly. Essentially it is a pre-paid card that you use up throughout the season. And you don’t even have to bring the card with you – it’s all automated…you even get email receipts after each purchase!

I think it can be summed up in one word: convenience. It’s like a CSA…but better? At least according to this happy card member: “The card is a great way to support local farming, easy to use and the fact that you select your assortment is much better than a normal CSA.”

Click here to learn more about the CSA Card, read more quotes from card members, and to sign-up!

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2020 CSA Registration Now Open!

Happy Spring everyone! Wait, it’s still February? I know better than to think spring is here to stay, but that won’t keep me from daydreaming that we’re out of the tunnel!

Registration for our 2020 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is now open! If you are unfamiliar with a CSA, it’s a relatively new and wonderful concept from the farmer’s perspective – the upfront expenses of seeds, supplies, and labor early in the season are steep, while veggies are a labor of love and patience. Without the revenue from pre-selling CSA shares, we don’t start earning anything back until the season is half over.

The CSA runs June-October and pickups are Saturday morning from 10am-1pm (self-serve after 1pm), with 3 “skip weeks” built into the price. Unlike boxed CSAs where everyone gets the same veggies, you will be able to choose between some items. Two sizes are available – the small is roughly sized to feed two adults, and the large is roughly sized for a family of four.

And you, my valued newsletter readers, get a one day head start to sign up before everyone else! It’s the best way to support the farm. Plus you’re locking yourself in to 17 weeks of delicious organic veggies…a true win-win! With so many returning CSA members, there are only 10 spots available this year.

Click here to learn all about the CSA and/or to sign-up. Last year, the CSA filled up in three days, so delay at your own risk! Join today and help me to sell out by National CSA Day on February 28th. Thank you for your consideration and support, and please share with anyone you think may be interested.

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Looking for that Special Someone

Sorry to disappoint but this farmer is taken. Yes, this lovely lady with questionable style (I love you but what are you wearing?!) is my forever valentine. Despite being way out of my league, I’m blessed to call this loving, caring, and hardworking gorgeous gal mine, all mine. In fact, my wife is really the one you (and I) can thank for all those delicious veggies. In addition to being an awesome mom, she’s a full-time veterinarian and subsidizes my farming habit. You know the only bacon I’m bringing home at the end of the day is the delicious kind.

But I am still looking for that special someone(s) to work with on the farm. There is a strong unmet demand for local veggies, meat and eggs in our area that I cannot supply on my own. If you’re not afraid of a good honest day’s labor, love to eat great food, and love the great outdoors, please reach out. Learn to grow your own and fall in love with farming. Here’s the link, please share widely!

And….that’s a wrap on the 2019 season! I got an overwhelming response after threatening it could be the last harvest. I cleared out the few remaining greens from the tunnel yesterday, and left the sides open over night in hopes the frigid cold kills any lingering pests. I’m looking forward to a blank slate in there to start the very promising (labor willing) 2020 season soon!

If you’ve made it this far, I have a little Valentine’s Day gift for you. There will be a few openings in the Saturday CSA program this year. Registration will officially open up soon, however, here is an early bird sign-up link hidden on the website. Feel free to share the love. Thanks for reading!

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Spoiled

Brr – the Potter Hill winter winds return for one day and I find myself dreaming of living farther south! Or at least farther down this hill. Maybe it’s just the February drearies, but this winter has positively spoiled me – I just can’t imagine living through a real New England winter ever again.

It’s been a running joke with many of you dedicated customers that every week I say this will be the last pickup until the spring crops start coming in. And then the greens in the tunnel grow some more and I’m forced to distribute more deliciousness to you all. So, I understand your skepticism, but I think this might be the last one!

When I planted the greens in the fall, I figured I had missed the deadline for a productive harvest. I thought we’d get a couple harvests out of it, but definitely didn’t expect to still be harvesting from them in the middle of February. I guess I’m not the only one spoiled by this extremely mild winter. Of course, I get to come inside a heated house at night. Not so much for those greens – you may be surprised to learn it is a completely unheated tunnel. The temps at night are essentially the same as outside. Nature’s resiliency is impressive. Let’s hope it’s far more resilient than we think, because we humans seem to be doing our best to test its breaking point. As far as I can tell, that can be the only explanation for news like this. We’re dousing Florida’s most vital and vulnerable waterways with millions of gallons of herbicides? So that the water grasses that filter all the runoff from destructive farming practices…..don’t get tangled in our propellers? 🤦‍♂️ Sounds like a topic for another newsletter.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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February Feast

Hello February! I’m not usually a fan of February, but have you looked at the 10 day forecast? I have and it’s glorious – and that’s after the third warmest January on record! Not being raised here, the winters can really beat me down. This winter, the only beating I’ve taken is from the news (did that really just happen 🤯😡?) I still have flashbacks to the winter it snowed so much I could walk up to the roof on top of the roof raked piles. I feel like usually we are all ready for winter to end by February, except for maybe the most seasoned of you New Englanders. I find myself actually missing winter a little this year. For you weather nerds, here’s an interesting read on the weather trends to thank (or curse) for this mild winter. Is winter over? I hope not – I still have my seed order to finalize!

I can assure you that winter IS over in the tunnel. I can really feel the sun’s strength increasing on a sunny day – it had to be 80 in there when I went to open it up a bit belatedly the other day. The greens I tried to clear in January keep coming back! There even is a new green to add to the mix – some delicious spicy salad mix that I seeded way back in October just for kicks, never thinking it would produce. Help me clear these precious greens out so I can get a fresh start in 2020!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Come Grow with us!

Do you have an inner rockstar farmer just waiting for the chance to shine? This is your opportunity! Whether you’ve never set foot on a farm but sick of your office job, or you’ve been farming for ten years and want to take on more responsibility, we have a position (or can make one) for you. Quitting your day job might not be as crazy as you think – not that long ago, I was working for the Census Bureau going stir crazy. After spending even just a few months with my hands in the soil, I knew I could never go back. Life is too short and precious to not love what you’re doing.  Please check out the job description and reach out to paul@nullpotterhillfarm.com if you are interested or know someone who might be.

There are many on this list who aren’t customers for a variety of reasons but have told me how much they appreciate this newsletter. This is your opportunity to help the farm – please spread this opportunity far and wide. Even if you aren’t ready to drop everything and learn to farm, maybe you know someone who would be a perfect fit. Ask around, share on FaceSpace and InstaBook, forward this email, and make some calls. Seriously, I need your help!

And for those of you I see regularly, you know how important this is to the sustainability of the farm. There is far too much (good) work to do be done for this farm to continue without a right hand (wo)man. 2019 was a solid season, but could have been wildly successful with consistent help. Do it for yourself if not for me! You will benefit from even better veggies, eggs, and meat.

FYI: No pickup tomorrow due to the cold, however, the forecast is calling for another thaw late in the week so look for an email later in the week.

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